Born Oct. 17, 1927
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Died Oct. 30, 2014
William Robert "Bill" "Wild Bill" Berndt was born in Everett, Wash., the second child of Robert and Velma Berndt. Each fall the family would journey to Washington to pick fruit and that year they would return with a blond towheaded little boy they named Billy.
Bill spent much of his life in the Broadwater valley attending elementary school in Radersburg and finishing his formal education in Townsend. On Dec. 26, 1944, Bill and two of his closest friends joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific. Although Bill did not talk about his time spent serving on destroyer escorts, he did say it was hot as heck in the engine room and he rarely saw the light of day.
At the end of World War II Bill returned to Townsend where he met and married Betty Wise. Bill and Betty moved to Wichita Falls, Texas where he learned the body and fender trade from his brother-in-law. Bill became a master of this trade and took great pride in his craftsmanship. Eventually Bill returned to Townsend. There were no children from this marriage.
One of Bill's hobbies became flying and he recounted many times the fun of he and his flying buddies, in their open cockpit planes, playing hide and seek in and around the hills and mountains near Townsend.
In the early 1950s Bill ended up in Bozeman working as a body man for Kenny's Garage. At this time, Bill met and later married Barbara (Lewis) Santos. Bill adopted Barbara's three children, Gary, Jena and Jeff. Soon Bill and Barbara would add to the family Barbie and Robert.
Bill's priorities in life were his family first, his job second, and spending time hunting, fishing and riding motorcycles and four-wheelers. Bill was an excellent horseman, mechanically savvy, and could fix most anything. In order to spend more time with his kids, Bill, at the age of 50, took up snow skiing. You could tell from a long way that it was Bill coming down the mountain by his wide bow-legged stance on his skis.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Velma Berndt; his sister, Jean; and his son, Jeffrey Berndt. Bill is survived by his wife, Barbara; son, Gary; daughter, Jena; daughter, Barbie; and son, Robert. Additionally, Bill is survived by five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11 at Trailhead Christian Fellowship in Townsend.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Nov. 5 to Nov. 9, 2014